Get in Consumers’ Heads for Better Conversions – Minding Psychology in Commerce

I’m most honored to be communicating with you here today, TripleSEO-ers.  That’s what brands (and marketers on behalf of those clients) do, make connections with consumers.

Let me remind you of the reality of marketing; as in life, it’s like an onion.  We may keep peeling at the layers, finding there’s ‘more to it’ than previously thought.’

While consumers make ostensible, fully-conscious decisions, clever research and marketing implementation lie beneath the surface.

Sit down.

Lift your right foot off the floor, making clockwise circles.

Keep doing it while drawing the number “6” in the air with your right-hand.

(Most of) you will notice your foot changed direction.

Abracadabra, my friends.

Welcome to the world of psychology,

of the inner mind,

of the “why” of things, a place marketers and brands take great interest in as well as a much younger content_muse.

Now that we have our links, let’s peel away another layer of the onion, thinking about principles of psychology in planning better conversions.


Arousing Checkouts

I recently skedaddled to Atlantic City.  Glimmer, glam, and lights abounded.

source: adweek

Casino ads are so arousing, so stimulating, featuring scantily clad women alongside beautiful, happy couples, reveling in their winnings and good times.

These ads are oft arranged along the Atlantic City Expressway, tinseled around the shore towns, and present inside ornate, casino interiors.

Why the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll of ads?  Why do ads aim to stimulate?  Nucleus accumbens are to blame.

We all have them – portions of the brain activated when we feel positive emotions, equally activated when making high-risk decisions.

Research finds people are likely to open wallets wider when aroused; it’s why “sex sells.”  But, it’s not sex (specifically) that sells; it’s about invoking positive feelings and emotions as opposed to neutral and negative sentiments.

Where is your sales tunnels’ checkout, your virtual sales terminal?   For e-commerce sites, it’s where consumers confirm their purchase, when parting with money.

image credit:

For other brand varieties, such as marketers, it’s the contact form.

Those in the SEO industry know the attractive call woman.  Do an image search for “contact us.”

One is sure to find a high number of brands abiding by the stereotype.

It’s a stereotype; the smiling attractive woman is used…a lot.

It’s true.  It’s true due to neurological impulse and reaction.  Twenty-five years ago, women owned about 10 percent of businesses, today about 30% and rising.

However, service providers are ‘playing the numbers,’ understanding a pretty, smiling lady is likely to arouse the attention and positive feelings of male owners, their consumers, helping to solidify the sale.

I’m not suggesting you adorn your checkout and contact pages with scantily-clad women, but I am suggesting you arouse your customers, inciting emotion during moments of risk, anytime they part with their money or personal information in exchange for perceived value.

Know customers, what excites, and bridge what excites to your brand.  Sometimes, two seemingly mutually exclusive entities combine, one riding the other’s coattails of perceived excitement.

Let’s consider a drink of sugar, water, and electrolytes.   What’s so exciting about it?

What’s so exciting now?

image credit:


Limited Pricing

Pick a number from one through nine.

What if I told you that I can account for 97% of the responses?

That would be impressive.

I cannot.

However, 90% of prices end in 9 or 5, with 97% ending in 0, 5, or 9.  Those are high percentages to exact coincidence; psychology must be at work.

Rounding upward requires more mental processes, so when we see  9’s (as in $6.99), we mentally retain the 9 (associated with the 6) rather than rounding upward to 7.

Additionally, we read left to right, giving the first number more ‘memory weight.’  As prices get higher, so does posed risk.

Let’s see this psychology at play regarding “television prices.”

Moreover, there’s no need to remind consumers they are parting with money, right?  Let them focus on the positives, the benefits of products and services rather than cogitate upon severing with dollars and cents reflected in visually-present decimals and dollar signs.

Roger Dooley reminds to relieve consumers of visual, fiscal anxiety, dropping dollar signs and decimal points when possible.  Notice no dollar or decimal graphics on this menu page.

image cred:

Every product and service has a price, and how that price is delivered plays a role in perception and conversion. 


Vanities for Sale

What is it about a small figurine of a man on a horse that stirs envy in non-wearers, facilitating vanity, and instigating consumer snobbery?

image cred:

When younger, a number of peers owned Reebok pumps.  I never wore a pair of Reeboks before the pump series, but a number of friends had them, so I had to have the pumps too.  They were the new ish, arousing envy in others…to an extreme level.


Envy has been around for ages, populating social circles throughout time.  In this age, it is present on Facebook, a study finding, “People aged in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness.”

Do you think advertising knows the effects of envy, using the knowledge to position respective products and services?  From 2005-2008, women were less likely to be overweight than males (27.4% versus 39.6% of population).

Let’s do a web search for “men’s weight loss.”

Now, let’s add a “wo” to the search.

We’re weighing the difference between 41 and 478 million results respectively.

Marketers know envy stirs commerce, but men and women are envious for different reasons.  Men are envious of same-sex rivals who have muscle tone and opposite-sex appeal.

Women grow green over rivals’ beauty and youth.

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When brands identify what stirs market envy, businesses begin to make competitors green with incoming revenue.

Successful brands observe vanities, introducing rationales that encourage purchase behaviors.

How can you incite envy in your consumers?  How can you make potential customers envy those who presently use products and services, planting seeds of interest and eventual intent?


Urgent Prestige

Envy is oft associated with prestige; we all want to be the king and queen at the lunch table, right?

Competitors offer similar products and services, distinguishing respective brands by engineering and marketing desired legacies, creating mystique and intrigue.

Creating a sense of urgency encourages action – smart marketers associate urgency with a desired call to action.

70% of adults, paying consumers, experience the ‘fear of missing out.’  You only live once (laugh out loud!)  How are you preying on this shared, human point of emotional mortality?

How do brands union the principles of urgency with prestige?  Brands love fan boys and girls; they want us to sleep outside, so we’re the ones leveraging the latest.


Smart marketers want to introduce the dire need, the notion ‘you can’t live without’ the next iteration, or the spring line of clothing, or the newest way to seven six-minute abs.

Have you heard of ‘prestige pricing,’ the notion of creating an aura of mass intrigue around a product or service, asking higher-end prices from the start?

Prestige pricing can be created; it also becomes self-sustaining.

The essence of the Kumcu and McClure (2003) case is that consumers of prestige products such as furs, jewelry, or luxury cars have incomplete information about product quality. Firms with (assumed) considerable market power then embark on consumer risk reducing promotion strategies (sampling, warranties, guarantees, etc.). As a firm’s promotion activities increase and consumers gain more knowledge and confidence about the perceived quality of prestige products, the result will be an increase in the quantity demanded for these prestige products at higher prices.


Keen marketing doesn’t squabble over prices with consumers.  Intended, upscale marketing involves notions of lowering risk, increasing envy, and introducing the undeniable sense of intrigue and elitism.


Urge consumers with the notion of prestige, allowing them entry into your special club or team.





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About Anthony Pensabene

I am community manager at Skyrocket and lovz to write about branding, PR, creative marketing, and psychology. Catch me riding around your online marketing town with my Shakespeare action figure atop the handlebars.. It's not safe- know more. Whatever happened to the Saloon of Literature?
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5 Responses to Get in Consumers’ Heads for Better Conversions – Minding Psychology in Commerce

  1. thanks for letting me do a ditty here, Chris. I enjoy your pieces for blending the psychology of marketing in with the seo and link building space. there are forces at work.. wizardry of marketing.. one toad’s foot, one pint of link juice, one shake from Rand’s beard…

  2. Se▲n says:

    Wunderbar, nichts besseres als eine psychologische marketing-artikel

    Great work Anthony.

  3. RootsWebSol says:

    No problem Anthony – you know you’re always welcome here!

    When I have a few hours to spare I will definitely be revisiting some more SEO + Psych posts for this blog and who knows I may even share them on other blogs too…

    One article I am thinking about covering at the moment is the Five Factor Model (OCEAN) & as McAdams has called it the a “psychology of the stranger,” because they refer to traits that are relatively easy to observe in a stranger.

  4. i madz an edit “the effects of envy”

    i am a grammar boy. i’m fierce. – yeah, that was an obscure modified reference to living colour, the group not the television series, which was pretty fucking funny if you ask me, which you can. i can be found at 555-867-content_muse

  5. Joel K says:

    After reading this through today, I am convinced you are some kind of genius.

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